Author Archives: Annalize Mouton

Country weekend – Landmeterskop Farm by Megan Smith

Landmeterskop Farm Cottages

Megan Smith who with her family spent a weekend at Landmeterskop at the beginning of December wrote about us on her blog:
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After a friend told us about the peaceful weekend they spent at Landmeterskop Farm in the Cape Overberg near Stanford, I knew that it was the perfect place for a family weekend at the end of a busy year. I made a booking and last weekend we packed the car and headed off to this sheep farm in the country. Owners Valerie and Theuns Steenkamp go out of their way to make your stay special and relaxing. The unique touches throughout our self-catering cottage and endless roaming space for our boys made Landmeterskop thoroughly memorable.
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Although we don’t live in the city, our busy lifestyle keeps us running most of the time. A country weekend complete with farm animals and swims in the dam is the perfect antidote to the…

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Veterans at work @ Landmeterskop farm

On Landmeterskop, an Overberg farm midway between Stanford and Elim, harvesting of their grain crops – wheat, barley and oats, was done by their near neighbours, Jan and Danie van Dyk of Hartebeeskloof, Stanford, a father-and-son team who still put their veteran machinery to work. Village Life Magazine, did an article on them in their Feb/March Issue 2008:

Jan van Dyk of the farm Hartebeeskloof near Stanford in the Overberg was five or six years old when he first drove a tractor all by himself. “It’s in the blood,” says Jan. As a youngster it was Jan’s job after school to take coffee to Hendrik Rooi, their farm labourer, to wherever he was working with the tractor on the farm. His mother’s warnings to stay away from the tractor and not drive it himself, fell on deaf ears. While Hendrik was enjoying his coffee and having a smoke break, Jan would be on the tractor, driving it to his heart’s content. At home he would be questioned by his mother as to why he “smelled of tractor so much”.

“I have only been with Hendrik on the tractor while he was doing the driving,” he lied.

Today Jan, the fourth generation van Dyk farming at Hartebeeskloof, is as passionate about tractors as ever. He now collects and renovates veteran tractors and farm implements and does all the farm work with tractors dating from the 1940s to 1950s.

Jan is the proud owner of two 1942 Allis-Chalmers Model “M” tractors of which one is already fully renovated and in good running and working condition. His pride and joy is an International T-9 Bulldozer or crawler tractor which still starts promptly when its sling is turned! Then he has a Farmall Cub (the only Farmall built with an L-head engine), which was the smallest tractor in the International Harvester line, and capable of pulling one 30-centimetre bottom plough. The Farmall Cub was one of the most popular “small chore tractors” made in history as it was aimed at the needs of the small-acreage farmer. It was produced for almost 20 years, with over 200 000 of them built between 1947 and 1964. Seven or eight implements were initially designed for it: a plough, a disc, a backblade, a sickle-bar mower, belly-mower, and a one-armed front-end loader. Like the Farmall Model A, the Cub was off-set to the left with the driver and steering wheel on the right so that the driver could have a perfect view of a belly-mounted cultivator.

There are also two Case tractors made by Jerome Increase Case’s company in Wisconsin. Case built their first steam engine in 1869 which was moved around by horses. By 1876 they had developed their first steam traction engine and the first Case farm tractor appeared on the scene in 1892. Their eagle trademark is patterned after a bald eagle, “Old Abe”, a mascot in the American Civil War.

The oldest tractor on the farm is a McCormick-Deering 22-36 (the model number indicates the power output: 22 drawbar, a unit used to measure the pulling power of locomotives and tractors, and 36 horsepower, a unit of power output). These tractors were called “farmer engineered powerhouses” as the McCormick-Deering 15-30 tractor, originally built from 1921 to 1934, was a kerosene-powered steel-wheeled machine which developed 30 brake horsepower (± 22,4 kilowatts), and in 1929 the output was increased to 22 drawbar and 36 bhp (± 27 kW). This tractor, along with the famous John Deere “D”, completed the transition from horse power to horsepower.

The early McCormick-Deering tractors were painted grey with red wheels; only in 1936 did the company switch to an all-red colour scheme.

Jan’s collection of veteran tractors is completed by four Hanomag R545 Combitracs, manufactured by the Hannoversche Maschinenbau AG, a German producer of steam locomotives, tractors, trucks and military vehicles. The company, founded in 1835, made its first farm tractors in 1912; this division was sold in 1964 to Massey-Ferguson.

Jan’s son Danie helps with the renovation of these old tractors – “he does the body, while I fix the heart”. Danie could even as a boy of five distinguish between the four Hanomag tractors by just listening to the sound of their engines. Danie says he can still do that. “The only difference is that today I know why they sound different and what is wrong with each of them!”

Jan on an Allis-Chalmers tractor with caterpillar tracks

Jan on an Allis-Chalmers tractor with caterpillar tracks

Jan on an Allis-Chalmers tractor with caterpillar tracks, while Danie is pulling a veteran disc plough with a Hanomag

Jan on an Allis-Chalmers tractor with caterpillar tracks, while Danie is pulling a veteran disc plough with a Hanomag

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The Vermeulens of the Overberg & Stanford

Portrait of a Village

The Vermeulen men of Stanford distinguished themselves as excellent builders, and many of the older houses, and especially the Victorian ones in Stanford, were built by them. There are also many buildings in Hermanus still standing as a testimony to their skill and excellence.

The progenitor of the Overberg Vermeulens was Christoffel Johannes Vermeulen, baptised 1749. He was the great-grandson of Jan Willemz Vermeulen who came to the Cape in 1680 from Utrecht in the Netherlands. In 1771 Christoffel married Cornelia Johanna van Straaten in Paarl, and they produced nine children. He obtained grazing rights for his cattle on Awila, a farm between Uylen- and Hagelkraal in the Overberg Strandveld in 1785.

Forty-six years later, in 1831, the same farm, Awila (1912 hectares) was granted to Christoffel’s youngest son, Hendrik Johannes Hermanus Vermeulen, who lived there until his death in 1881. Hendrik and his wife, Anna Susanna Matthee whom he married in 1820 when they were both just 14…

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Canoes made in Gansbaai

They were brave little boats, capable of carrying heavy loads and surviving heavy seas. But these “Made in Gansbaai” vessels have now become part of Strandveld history.

Early 2004, Bergman, the last working Gansbaai canoe was taken off the waters it had plied the last thirty years. According to its owner, seventy-year-old Mr Dirk (Monkey) Lourens of Gansbaai, it was built by Mr Awie Geldenhuys and was the first of the bigger canoes. No matter how rough the seas, other boats capsized, but not this one. It always kept its nose up, no matter how heavy the load. It could hold up to 1,5 tonnes of fish!

Oom Dirk (Monkey) Lourens and Bergman this time loaded with people

Oom Dirk (Monkey) Lourens and Bergman this time loaded with people

Oom Dirk Lourens with his canoe almost swamped with an overload of fish.

Oom Dirk Lourens with his canoe almost swamped with an overload of fish.

Oom Dirk (Monkey) Lourens

Oom Dirk (Monkey) Lourens

The Bergman canoe

The Bergman canoe

The story of the Gansbaai canoe started when Mr Michiel Groenewald found a usable wreck washed ashore near Danger Point in about 1929. He took it home with a horse cart and repaired it so that he could eventually take it out to sea. His wife’s sixteen-year-old brother, Koen Wessels, who lodged with them, was the oarsman. People associated him with this particular boat to such an extent that he became known as Koen Kano.

Michiel Groenewld, builder of the first canoe and his sons Koos and Pilla

Michiel Groenewald, builder of the first canoe and his sons, Koos and Pilla

Michiel Groenewld, builder of the first canoe

Michiel Groenewald, builder of the first canoe

Koos Groenewald

Koos Groenewald

An exact scale model of Bergman, the last canoe to see active service, made by Greeff Geldenhuys of Gansbaai.

An exact scale model of Bergman, the last canoe to see active service, made by Greeff Geldenhuys of Gansbaai.

But the little fishing boat still had some shortcomings. Michiel then used the same plan and built a new one. Keeping the basic form, he reshaped it a little bit and raised the square prow so that it could better weather the rough seas and wind. The new one was indeed a sturdy and very safe little boat, made for these seas. More and more fishermen wanted boats like his and, with primitive tools, he started building. Some of these tools can be seen in the Strandveld Museum at Franskraal. In his lifetime he built more than a hundred boats. People from as far as the then Transvaal ordered boats which they used on the inland dams. Mr Koos Groenewald, a son of Michiel, remembers that these boats were sold for £30 each.

Wood for the ribs, which they called the knees, were cut from the local milkwood trees. They carefully selected and sawed forked branches from the trees to range from smaller to larger. Care was also taken to not damage the trees more than necessary. According to Mr Groenewald, about twelve of these trees are still standing on the farm Moolmansdam near Gansbaai. The branches were then brought to Gansbaai, where it was cut and trimmed into the right sizes. Then they were taken down to Perdebos near the harbour where these knees were put into the water, fastened with heavy stones and left in the water to be washed clean by the sea, and to rid the branches of their sap. It sometimes took weeks, even months, before the knees were ready to be used. These knees formed the structure of the boat, like a rib cage, onto which the other wooden planks, choice meranti, were then fastened with copper nails.

The seams were caulked with something that resembles white wool. Then the boat was painted and once dry, put into the water so that the wood could swell. Only then the boat was waterproof. In summer, with the boats lying in the harbour, the children sometimes had to fill the boats with buckets of water to keep the seams tight.

These boats could be used with sails, oars or fitted with an engine. Once Koos and his friends, who were allowed to use the boat with permission for fishing, used their father’s boat (obviously without permission) as a surfboard! It had the right shape, but that was definitely not what it was intended for. The boat capsized, the oar got stuck and the escapade resulted in severe punishment for the soaking wet and cold culprits.

These sturdy little boats became so popular that other people also started building similar boats using his pattern, but according to Mr Koos Groenewald, they did not use milkwood ribs as his father, but ribs of other wood which were steam shaped.

Michiel’s brother also started building these boats, but he eventually specialized in the bigger five-crew boat, known as chuggies, with four men at the oars plus the skipper. One of the original boats built by Michiel Groenewald can be seen in the Old Harbour in Hermanus.

The canoe at the entrance to Gansbaai – a fitting resting place for a boat so closely associated with the town

The canoe at the entrance to Gansbaai – a fitting resting place for a boat so closely associated with the town

Originally published in Village Life, No 7, August/September 2004

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Snoekies Groenewald of Baardskeerdersbos

Snoekies (Hendrik Cornelius) Groenewald of Baardskeerdersbos, a very small village on the road to Elim via Gansbaai, really is quite a character! People either “love him or hate him”. He was born in 1939, the youngest of the 10 children of Christoffel Hendrik Groenewald and Susanna Elizabeth Lourens. He grew up on a farm in the area and when in his teens and early twenties roamed the Strandveld as a shepherd, earning 14 shillings per month. At the age of 24 he married Beulah (Elizabeth Maria Fourie) and they have four sons.

Not everything one hears about Snoekies is good, but on the other hand, here in the Overberg there are as many sides to every tale as there are people telling it! And with each retelling a little more flourish is added. The first time we met Snoekies was on 31 July 2004 while on our way to Elim for their 180th anniversary. Snoekies was also on his way to the festival in his beautiful, old-fashioned “kap-kar” (horse drawn carriage).

Snoekies Groenewald

Snoekies Groenewald

The second time was when, on my way home from L’Agulhas, I was driving through Baardskeerdersbos and on the spur of the moment went looking for Snoekies myself. I had been told to look out for the skeletons against the fence – that would be where I’d find him. Snoekies was in his yard and very happy to see me. Told me all about his horses who he says are descendants of the horses that survived the HMS Birkenhead wreck in 1852. Whether that is true, I don’t know, because Snoekies seems to me to be a born “teller of tales”!

Beware

Beware

Strictly private

Strictly private

Snoekies Groenewald

Snoekies Groenewald

Soon after I arrived, his wife, Beulah, and one of their sons joined him and after some friendly bickering between the threesome, it was feeding time for the dogs, chickens, many cats and kittens. My, my, my! It was the first time in my life that I had seen cats, dogs and chickens eating together, absolutely relishing their meal of cooked squash!

Snoekies, Beulah and son

Snoekies, Beulah and son

Then I was invited to listen to Snoekies reading some of his poetry. Was I surprised! He really writes beautifully and has a masterful command of the Afrikaans language.

Snoekies Groenewald

Snoekies Groenewald

Snoekies himself will also tell you quickly about his altercation with the “Engelse rooikop” who had him in jail for five hours. And all about two donkeys!

Here is the “Engelse Rooikop”, artist Amanda Jephson’s side of the donkey-story: “…a ‘new comer’ called Van Rensburg had bought two donkeys from an old local man called Snoekies and the two donkeys were giving him untold trouble jumping his fences to get back to the bigger herd owned by the old local. …So I found this ‘new comer’ and he gave me a price and I duly paid him for the donkeys (I had won R250 on the national lottery and was thrilled to use this money to save them). The problem was I had to fetch them running wild in a large herd from a huge field. I knew nothing about donkeys, horses or any large animal and so I garnered the help of another local in the village called Flip. Flip who works in the one and only shop and milks cows for the farmer who owns the shop is also known as the ‘donkey man’ and he and his family use a donkey trap as their form of transport. One Saturday before 3.00 pm, as this was when Flip was on milking duty, I met him and his young son on the gravel road outside the field where the donkey herd could be seen far in the distance. Van Rensburg had told me I could collect the donkeys there.  Flip and his son said they knew which two donkeys they were and went off into the field with a bit of rope. After a short while they returned with the two tethered together. This all seemed to be going relatively well. The donkeys were pretty wild and they had tied them together to herd back to our farm which was as the crow flies about 3 km. The logic of tying them together is one can’t run away in front of the other so they have to walk at the same pace. And so we began the journey, me in the bakkie (truck) behind,  the donkeys in front with Flip. After a hot slow walk we arrived at the neighbouring farm to ours where our friend Ros who is an Appaloosa breeder lived, and she knows EVERYTHING there is to know about horses. We got the donkeys into the crush (race) and untied them and gave them some water as they were sweating from anxiety and stress. Ros, meanwhile began preparing the syringes to inject them for worms.

“The next minute we heard a grinding of gears and a roaring car engine and up the long bumpy gravel driveway sped a red car. Out of the car burst four men. The driver was short, stout, old, grey-haired and dirty looking, wearing a red, hand knitted jersey with a grey cap on his head. This we discovered was Snoekies Groenewald and the three rough looking characters with him were his sons. He [Snoekies who by then had already had a few to drink] stomped up to Ros and I and started bellowing two inches away from us …while he shouted expletives in Afrikaans. …We gathered from what he was yelling that these were his donkeys and we had stolen them from him. As much as we tried in a reasonable way to explain the situation of how I had bought the donkeys from Van Rensburg, he would not hear of it. One of his sons became very violent and attacked Ros with a large fence pole trying to hit her. She escaped and ran to the house to phone the police, whereupon I was left alone with these lunatics, Flip having long disappeared to do his milking and lets just say my significant other had also melted into the background. The sons meanwhile were tying the donkeys together again and proceeding to march them back down the driveway. Snoekies spat some interesting insults at me in Afrikaans…. before drunkely stomping back to his car with his posse of sons as they slammed the doors and drove off, one ahead on foot herding the donkeys.

“I was left in a quivering terrified state. I am a nicely brought up girl, not used to this appalling behavior, but most of all I was so anxious about the donkeys and what would now become of them as Snoekies kept threatening to sell them for meat. The police arrived and took our statements and we laid a charge of theft, trespassing and attempt to do grievous bodily harm. A very cooperative station commander took charge of the situation and said they were going to arrest Snoekies for having an unlicensed firearm. As apparently he had also threatened someone with a gun.  The next day I wrote a statement for the police so they could verify the facts that I had not stolen the donkeys from Snoekies as he claimed, and check that I had legally bought and paid Van Rensburg for the donkeys, who also wrote a letter to this effect. We were told Snoekies had gone to Bredasdorp to consult his attorney… We heard little more of it until a couple of days later when I received a phone call from the police commander to say I could collect the donkeys from Snoekies.

“…On the rescue day I met the police officer outside Snoekies smallholding, which has an entrance filled with skulls and bones of numerous dead horses and cows draped over the fence and gate, and looks worse than something out of the film Deliverance.  I drove past it just the other day and the bones just grow and grow in numberand it is now looking like an animal grave yard.  We drove up this ominous driveway to where the donkeys were corralled… There was no sign of Snoekies. One of his younger sons was there and proceeded to help Flip catch the stressed donkeys and tether them ready to bring to our farm. When lo and behold, there was a grating of gears and a roaring of tyres and this time up the narrow driveway sped a clapped out white Bantam bakkie, going at about 100 km and stopped in a swirl of dust and stones. Oh no, I thought I don’t believe it, here we go again, a repeat scenario! The cop was very laid back sitting on a step avoiding the sun, the animal welfare officer was sweating and I was staring in disbelief as the older son of Snoekies stepped out of the bakkie dressed to the nines. Sporting full stetson hat, cowboy boots, cowboy trousers and shirt, and holster with guns on either side… stepped onto his front door bakkie step to raise himself in height and started screaming and shouting at us while waving his guns in the air above his head. I turned to the cop and heatedly asked him what he was going to do about this intimidation. He just shrugged, mumbled something and ambled off ignoring the situation. Someone later told me he was related to this family, as were so many of the police in the area. After the lunatic had vented off for a while we decided to ignore him as well, and slowly and with as much calm as we could muster walked the donkeys down the driveway with Flip herding them and me behind in the bakkie as before. The welfare officer drove off rapidly and the policeman vanished, but not before I said if he did not stop the lunatic following us I would report him for not doing his duty. I drove on with bated breath. The poor donkeys by this stage had wrestled themselves out of Flip’s grasp and were racing along the road for the remainder 2.5 kms to our farm.We got them up the driveway, shut the gate and locked it, injected them, fed and watered them and set them onto grazing and new home.

“I phoned the police commander to tell him what had happened and that we had got the donkeys back safely. Most pressing on my mind was what we should do if they came and stole the donkeys back again. He said we must put a No Trespasser’s sign up on our property and if they come again he would have them arrested. I slept with pepper spray next to my bed, every night for a year, fully expecting another bad situation. Thank goodness the matter seemed to settle and nothing happened. Pablo and Luna settled down and loved the freedom of their new home. I henceforth became known and the ‘donkey vrou’ (donkey wife). Some years later I learnt that Snoekies still called me the ‘f’….ing Engelse rooikop’ because I had put him in prison for five hours on the night of that awful first day when he and his sons stormed onto property. His attorney had, by the way, advised him to give back the donkeys promptly, as he was guilty of theft.”

http://amandajephson.blogspot.com/2011/10/how-i-got-my-first-two-donkeys-pablo.html

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Napier’s forgotten gold mine

Hansiesrivier Gold Mine

Hansiesrivier Gold Mine

Hansiesrivier gold mine

Hansiesrivier gold mine

In the early 1870’s, considerable deposits of alluvial gold were panned by prospectors in the Eastern Transvaal (Mpumalanga). Small amounts were also found on the Witwatersrand before the discovery of the main reef in 1886. In 1880 gold fever ran high throughout Southern Africa and sure enough two ambitious Englishmen thought they had found their El Dorado on the farm Hansiesrivier, presently owned by Mr Kosie van Zyl, in the Napier district. Following the vein of gold bearing quartz, for almost nine years they dug a 85 meter long tunnel, removing between 200 and 300 tons of gold-bearing rock by hand.

Hansiesrivier gold mine

Hansiesrivier gold mine

These enterprising men built themselves a small, stone cottage and planted some fruit trees and a vegetable garden. The foundation of the house is still there, as well as some of the fruit trees.

By 1889 they floated a company with the name of The Napier Gold Searching Company and sold one pound sterling shares at ten shillings.To a degree the share selling must have taken off, because written evidence exists that a certain Mr P.H.Giliomee from the farm Soutkuil held shares number 232 to 236. The share was signed by a Mr G. Herbert. The descendants of the Giliomees are still living on Soutkuil and one wonders if they are aware that they are shareholders in a gold searching company!

Share certificate

Share certificate

One can only speculate as to whether this was premeditated fraud or an honest way to seek further investment for the development of the mine. What we do know, is that they sailed off to England with the money presumably to buy mining equipment for the processing of the ore, and never returned. It is believed that one partner died while in England and the other was too weak to return. Nothing was ever heard of them again, but that there is gold-bearing rock on Hansiesrivier seems to be true, although not a viable amount. Mr Henk Swart, the previous owner of Hansiesrivier, had a sample of the quartz assayed. The result – 0,3 grams per ton. Compare it to the average yield of 15 grams of gold per ton of rock in the Witwatersrand reef.

It was not only at Hansiesrivier that men were mining for gold. A certain Dr Thompson, and later also Mr G. Herbert got permission from the Dutch Reformed Church Council to prospect not only for gold, but also for other precious metals and stones on ground belonging to the church. No one knows if they had better luck than the two Englishmen.

Article by Alan Maree

Article by Alan Maree

After publication of this article in Village Life magazine, we received the following letter from Jean Malan, Chief geologist, PetroSA, Cape Town:

I enjoyed the article “Napier’s forgotten gold mine” which took me back to my time as geologist working for the Geological Survey. In 1984 I visited several seemingly gold prospecting sites in the Overberg. These are on Klein Zandrif (west of Bredasdorp), Bloemfontein (south of Napier), Fairfield and the one on Hansiesrivier. The latter remains the best example of how the fortune hunters followed quartz veins in search of unfound richness. On Hansiesrivier a 0,8 metre wide fractured quartz vein was mined out over a distance of some 120 m. The vein contains some ferruginous and magnesium oxides and traces of pyrite (fool’s gold). The Hansiesriver mine is situated on a prominent northeast- southwest striking fault that can be followed as far as Papiesvlei. I agree with the very low grade of less than 0,5 gram/ton of gold.

In the Cape Town geological map sheet explanation by JN Theron (1984) the following is written: “Reports of reputed gold finds have appeared in local newspapers since 1859 spurred on by events up in the Transvaal. The only local recorded discovery was from a shaft sunk on the slopes of Lion’s Head which assayed 21,7 to 27,4 gram/ton. The Lion’s Head Gold Mining Company was formed but no further promising indications of economic proportions was found and the venture came to an end. Sad for them, but how would Table Mountain have looked today with mines all along its lower slopes!”

Only localised spots of gold, silver and tin were ever found scattered throughout the Western Cape and none of any commercial size. The only mineral deposit of size is manganese of which an example is the occurrence on the major fault at the Caledon spa, some 100m in diameter around the original spring. High grade manganese ore is interlayered with ferruginous and siliceous layers.

De Villiers (1964) estimated that with selective mining there could be 250 000 tons of ore at an average grade of 40% manganese – again far too small for any commercial mine. Thus the only present known “mines” in the Cape are the casinos!

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Tesselaar’s tangled tale!

Johannes Jacobus Tesselaar, the son of a lowly cook’s mate, became the first land baron in the Overberg after Governor Willem Adriaan van der Stel. And, although he officially died childless, he probably fathered both a “White” and a “Coloured” family line. He left a progeny and legacy which to this day are being untangled in court and by various researchers.

Teslaarsdal

Teslaarsdal

Teslaarsdal (now Tesselaarsdal), nestled against the northern slopes of the Klein River Mountains, hardly looks like the setting for so much intrigue, but a mystery writer may feel as much at home here as filmmaker Fellini. There is no actual village, simply houses and small farms strung out amongst pastures and trees. Many of the inhabitants are related, whatever the colour of their skin.

Local resident Mrs Simons loves her richly decorated rented house.

Local resident Mrs Simons loves her richly decorated rented house.

Its name was changed from Hartebeesrivier to Teslaarsdal by the post office to rule out confusion between this and another Hartebeesrivier. In the early 1900’s it got two churches and a primary school. Except for goods brought by itinerant traders, everything else had to be brought from Caledon by horse cart or wagon. Nowadays, there are two small shops.

The story of Teslaarsdal started in 1832 when the farm Hartebees-rivier and movables were left by Aaltje van der Heyde, the widow of Tesselaar, to nine servants and their descendants. Amongst them were Barend and Jan Frederik Bredenkamp, twins, whose parents, according to the baptismal certificate, were Jan Frederik Bredenkamp and Maria (Heysenberg), “bastard unbaptized Hottentottin”, the daughter of Antonie Heysenberg and Helena of the Cape. The other beneficiaries were Joggom Koert, Gert and Jan Gertse and the Heysenbergs, Alida, Christina, Elizabeth and Aletta. To this day, the offspring of these people maintain that they were all the illegitimate children of old Tesselaar himself.

There is almost no written proof of this, only verbal accounts passed on from generation to generation. And then also not so far back; three to four generations at most. There are, however, some other interesting facts to consider.

Tesselaar and his wife Aaltje were witnesses at the baptisms of all these children and later also of the mother, Maria Heysenberg. Tesselaar also changed his testament a couple of times. In 1804 he bequeathed the farm Hartebeesrivier to the Bredenkamp brothers and Heysenberg sisters. Specific mention was made of the fact that the Tesselaar couple was still childless after thirty years. Then in 1809 he added the names of Jan and Gert Gertse and Joggom Koert.

Johannes Jacobus Tesselaar died in 1810. His wife, Aaltje was left with a vast estate, fantastic jewels, 38 servants, 150 horses and many earthly goods. How he came to such riches from nothing remains a mystery. It is known that as a lieutenant in the Cape Cavalry he received the farms Steenboksrivier and Hartebeesrivier as payment from Van der Stel. Hartebeesrivier was a loan farm and he subsequently received another five farms. He was also one of the officials involved in the salvaging of the Nicobar which stranded near Quoin Point in 1783. The wreck was looted by local farmers, and it is on record that several wagonloads of salvaged goods were off-loaded at Tesselaar’s farm.

After Tesselaar’s death his widow continued farming on Steenboksrivier till her death in 1832. She produced wheat and barley and also had 15 000 vines, 38 servants, 148 horses, 10 wagons, 70 cattle, 300 sheep and 100 goats. Old man Tesselaar’s estate then went to his nephew, also Johannes Jacobus Tesselaar, except for Hartebeesrivier which went to the servants. The younger Tesselaar eventually became known in the Overberg as “The Capitalist”. He sold the farm Steenboksrivier to a Scot, Dr James Ross Hutchinson, who renamed it Dunghye Park. Tesselaar, like his uncle, also died childless (in Cape Town in 1869). Some of the descendants of the above mentioned servants are still living at Teslaarsdal.

The Bredenkamp brothers and their children were assimilated into the “White” community and they also legally transferred their shares to their children. The Gertses, Koerts and Heysenbergs became “Coloureds”. Joggom Koert and Alida Heysenberg got married and they had by far the largest family on the farm. From them descended the Julies and Carelse families who still own part of the farm.

Land was informally used, exchanged and transferred between the family members and their descendants. Boundaries were movable and very informal. These arrangements or transferrals were not registered through the proper channels. Things just sort of happened and were left to take their natural course. Many families came to occupy land through marriage – the Groenewalds, Fouries, Tiers, Gardeners and numerous others. In the end relations and living arrangements became very complicated and entangled and hard to explain. They also ran into difficulty when having to pay tax or trying to sell “their land”, which more and more of them wanted to do because at that stage, Coloured farmers did not qualify for state agricultural subsidies and they were struggling financially. There were no official records of deeds of transfer even though some had deeds of sale to the land they purchased. Some acquired their land through superannuation. The fight over who owns what has been going on for many years now.

In 1971 the Overberg Divisional Council, who had collected taxes on these farms, requested the Supreme Court to deal with the matter and to determine legal ownership. It was a sticky case and two years later the court ruled that the Council had no right to make such a case and things would be left to continue as in the past. It would remain a mixed area and those who assumed inherited rights would pay tax. A total of 128 people, 87 Coloured and 41 Whites, claimed rights to the land. The Land Organising Committee was formed in 1982 to settle the rights of ownership and the dispute between the Coloureds and Whites of Hartebeesrivier. Many court cases ensued from this unhappy state of affairs and some are still pending.

The late Clemens Reynolds

The late Clemens Reynolds (Photo by Maré Mouton)

One successful claimant was the late Mr Clemens Reynolds. His maternal grandmother was a granddaughter of Jan Frederik Bredenkamp, one of the twins. His father, Jan Nigrini, was the local miller and was also Clemens’ mother’s stepfather. His mother, unwed when Clemens was born, later married a Van Dyk of Hermanus. Entangled, indeed.

Clemens’ mother, Hester Reynolds (second from left), expecting Clemens. Third from left is his father, Jan Nigrini, who was married to Hester’s mother (fourth from left).

Clemens’ mother, Hester Reynolds (second from left) and her husband, Coena van Dyk next to her (far left). Third from left is his father, Jan Nigrini, who was married to Hester’s mother (fourth from left) and Clemens (17 years old at the time) is standing in the middle (sixth from left).

A many-talented man, Clemens was a farmer and blacksmith. He knew the veld and the indigenous plants and their culinary and medicinal uses. And when they all got together for celebrations, partying and dances, he was part of the band, playing concertina, banjo or guitar.

For these get-togethers they shod their normal working gear and dressed up. A horse-drawn wagon was sent around to fetch the people from the neighbouring farms and bring them to the threshing-floor in summer. In winter they gathered in the old stone shed where they would sit on long benches along the walls. Tables were laden with whatever foodstuffs people had brought. For a moment poverty and hard work were forgotten, and moonshine and song raised the spirits. When they had eaten their fill, the tables were removed and the music and dancing started.

There was one old toothless aunt who never, but never, wore shoes. For these gettogethers

she would put on shoes, but she could barely walk with them. Once seated, knees apart, she would stare and stare at her shod feet glued to the floor, while all the time chewing with lips sucked in over toothless gums. But, when the dancing started, she would get rid of the damnable weights and dance till the wee hours!

Looking at yesteryear’s pictures, visiting the old haunts and listening to the oft-told stories, the old people come alive. With legal ownership enabling people to sell their land to more and more buyers from the cities, one can only hope that something of the old Teslaarsdal will remain

For more photos of Clemens and his smithy, please visit: http://annalizemoutonphoto.wordpress.com/2014/10/02/clemens-reynolds-smithy-in-tesselaarsdal/

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